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John Lodge - Gene Vincent - The Carpetbaggers - Harold Robbins
John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers - Moody Blues
John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers cutting - Moody Blues
John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers Autographed Photo
Big Al Johnson Autograph - The Carpetbaggers
Moody Blues - Classic Artists DVD/CD


October 1964



Assembly Rooms, Tamworth

John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers - Moody Blues


Avion Cinema, Aldridge

John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers - Moody Blues

November 1964



Atherstone Memorial Hall

John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers - Moody Blues


Assembly Rooms, Tamworth

John Lodge - The Carpetbaggers - Moody Blues




John Lodge (bass, vocals)

Big Al Johnson (lead guitar, vocals)

Rob Sheward (drums)

Malcolm Bourne (organ, vocals)








It was Mid 1964 as the Crestas were no more and the embryonic Moody Blues were just starting out on their journey just around the corner that John Lodge (as Johnny C Storm) came back together with the musicians that had played out the final stage of the Rebels’ story, ex El Riot – Rob Sheward on drums, Malcolm Bourne on Vox continental organ and Royal Academy-trained pianist Big Al Johnson demonstrating his musicianship on guitar.




Johnson was hungry for success so, decided to see if “Mr. Big” Don Arden could help them on their way.  Speaking with Arden’s son, David (and brother to Sharon Osborne), they were advised to polish their act for a month and he would make the trip to check them out and hopefully organise some bookings.


Johnson had, for some time, been good friends with Gene Vincent, often socialising when Vincent was performing in the area.   It was following his filming session for “Thank Your Lucky Stars” that Johnson arranged to take his bandmates along to meet the legendary performer for a drink.   Lodge was thrilled as he had long admired Vincent’s music and stage craft.




As they arrived at the table, Johnson interrupted Vincent, engrossed in his Harold Robbins book, to confide that that they were struggling to come up with a new name for the band.  “I’ve got just the name for you” he announced, “believe me, it’s a good one” turning over the book to reveal the title “The Carpetbaggers”.   Well, if Gene Vincent thought it was a good name, who were they to disagree?!








Good to his word, David Arden soon got back in touch offering them their first booking down south at Bromley College of Advanced Technology, Kent – supporting none other than the Animals.


‘Official’ gigs included the Tyburn House and the Belfry and, as far afield as deMontford Hall, Leicester and the Colton Hall, Bristol. These were supplemented by numerous ‘unofficial’ performances at smaller local venues, unbeknown to Arden and co-manager Andy Woods.











Surprisingly, life on the road for the Carpetbaggers was quite a step up in comparison with their previous arrangements, having a big cruiser and no less than 3 road crew (2 for equipment and a driver) to take care of their needs.


It would appear that, free of the hauling and driving duties common to most working bands, their time was often spent partaking in a little too much alcohol!  There was an agreed rule that they could have just one before the show, but, afterwards, restrictions ceased.  It’s fair to say that Lodge was no match for Sheward & Johnson in that department.


Finding themselves changing in the cellar at a club one day, amongst the crates of beer, the doors to the car-park beckoning,  a few crates to transfer to the van surely wouldn’t be missed, they thought.  Mid-pilfer, the bar tender came down, catching them in the act.  Quick as a flash, he bought their story that they’d already paid the landlord trade price to take some with them, at which he helped them to carry on loading up their booty.













All of the band had their turn on vocals, except for Rob and a typical set included rockier material such as “Lucille”, “Say Mama”, “Be Bop a Lula”, “Dance to the Bop”, “The Girl Can’t Help It”, “Long Tall Sally” and Lodge singing “Send Me Some Loving” was always very popular.


John had tried his hand at song-writing and the result was the fantastic “Blues Stay Away From Me”,  a valuable asset in their stage armoury, a prophetic title given the many rejected offers to jump-ship over to the Moodies’ advancing vessel.



The band decided to commit some tracks to vinyl and arranged a recording session in London’s Denmark Street (aka Tin Pan Alley). “Blues Stay Away From Me” arranged by Johnson was coupled on a 45 acetate with “Tutti Fruitti”.  The first finally being included on the Classic Artists release though Tutti Fruitti agonizingly remaining unheard to this day.





Gene Vincent tried to persuade Johnson to go back to the States with him, Lodge thought for a while about the offer too but, it was clear that he had already started to make plans for his next venture.


Johnson went on to be good friends with Jimi Hendrix and counted John Bonham and Cozy Powell as some of his closest pals. His list of sessions is long but fondly remembers playing on Scott Walker’s “Joanna” alongside Rick Wakeman.